After getting a solid start from the much-maligned A.J. Burnett last night the Yankees have to be feeling pretty good about their chances of winning Game 5, as they’ll turn to rookie Ivan Nova against Doug Fister and the Tigers.
Nova was technically a reliever in Game 1, “starting” the suspended game and pitching 6.1 innings of two-run ball for the victory.
He came on in relief of CC Sabathia then, but now Sabathia is the one who’ll be an option out of the bullpen in Game 5, telling Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York that “I’m definitely available.”
Whether he’ll actually be needed is unclear, because having today off allows the Yankees’ bullpen to rest up and the Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Rafael Soriano trio should be ready to go for an inning or two each. If the Yankees turn to Sabathia it probably means Nova had a short start or the game is in extra innings, as Detroit’s lack of dangerous left-handed hitters makes using him as a specialist unlikely.
Plus, with a rough outing in Game 3 and a 4.78 ERA in 15 career postseason starts Sabathia hasn’t exactly made a strong case for being trusted out of the bullpen.
The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.
After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.
Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.